The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY -

Sam Neill ad­mits he’s not qual­i­fied to host a his­tor­i­cal doc­u­men­tary se­ries, but he does come to the job with bucket loads of cu­rios­ity.

The award-win­ning ac­tor spent a year trac­ing Cap­tain James Cook’s epic ex­plo­ration of the Pa­cific Ocean, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, for the His­tory Chan­nel se­ries The Pa­cific: In the Wake of Cap­tain Cook.

“I grew up with a very Euro­cen­tric view of all of this, so I was keen to ex­plore the other side of this story and to lis­ten to what the peo­ple had to say about Cook’s ar­rival,” he says.

“There’s so much to learn. I’m not a his­to­rian or an ex­pert in any­thing much, but I am very cu­ri­ous. It’s the cu­rios­ity that pro­pels the show as much as any­thing, and I hope that cu­rios­ity is in­fec­tious for the view­ers.”

Neill’s aim on his grand ad­ven­ture, which stretches as far south as New Zealand and as far north as Canada, is to un­cover new sto­ries be­hind old his­tory.

Vis­it­ing the is­lands and lands where Cook went and meet­ing the de­scen­dants of the peo­ple Cook met, he ex­plores the tri­als and tri­umphs, and dis­as­ters and de­lights that fol­lowed.

“I felt enor­mously priv­i­leged to be meet­ing peo­ple all around the Pa­cific who were so in­ter­est­ing and funny and had great sto­ries to tell,” he says.

“I’m re­ally en­cour­aged by the re­newed in­ter­est in telling those sto­ries that were not the of­fi­cial ones we were given at school.”

The se­ries doesn’t shy away from some of the more un­savoury and ir­re­versible ef­fects of Cook’s voy­age.

“I didn’t re­alise the ex­tent to which the whole idea of Cook po­larised peo­ple in some places,” Neill says. “He is loathed in some places and li­onised in oth­ers. There’s pain and grief. Cook’s ar­rival here changed ev­ery­thing.” The Pa­cific: In the Wake of Cap­tain Cook pre­mieres on Mon­day at 7.30pm on The His­tory Chan­nel

Sam Neill traces Cap­tain Cook’s epic ex­plo­ration.

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